Thursday, June 28, 2012

Background - Part Three to Present Day: The Enucleation Decision

When Dr. Ellis called me Monday afternoon, just as I was leaving to go pick up Lou from the vet, she reported that Lexie's right eye pressure was 46, which is the highest it's ever been, but surprisingly her left eye pressure was normal.  She said she spoke with Dr. Corbett, and Dr. Corbett said that there is only one medication left that we haven't tried, but it's extremely hard to find and it's very expensive.  Then, Dr. Ellis told me that, because Lexie has not responded well to ANY of her treatments, and because her eye pressures have continued to build and fluctuate, Dr. Corbett had advised enucleation, and Dr. Ellis agreed.  My heart sank.

When I arrived at the vet just a few minutes later, Dr. Ellis was waiting on me.  I could tell that she was truly sorry that we weren't able to save Lexie's eyes, but I know in my heart that we did all that we could do.  After all those trips to the vet in both Huntington and Ohio and all that medication, at no point did Lexie's eyes look like they were steadily improving.  One day they might have looked a little better than the day before, but then just as quickly one or both of her eyes would look much worse.  So, at this point, it just kind of feels like this is what's meant to be.  However, just as I was wrapping my brain around the concept of having Lexie's eyes surgically removed, Dr. Ellis said, "It's your decision whether or not you want to remove both eyes, or just the right."  

Whoa.  Wait.  What?

I have to CHOOSE whether or not Lexie has her left eye removed?!?!?!  I asked Dr. Ellis for her opinion, and she recommended that I have them both removed in one surgery.  She said with the way her eye pressures had been fluctuating, she was almost certain that Lexie's left eye would have to be removed eventually anyway.  She told me to think about it, though, and call her in the morning with my decision.  She said that Lexie's right eye was definitely causing her pain, so the sooner the surgery, the better.

I had read online somewhere that it's very important for owners of newly blinded dogs to stay upbeat because your sadness can make your dog even sadder.  So, the first thing I did when we got home from the vet was I went up to my bedroom and bawled for about an hour.  I couldn't stand the thought of my Lou never looking at me with those big, brown, sparkly eyes ever again.  Then, I started toiling over the decision to remover her left eye.  After all, the pressure in that eye had been normal, which meant it wasn't causing her pain, it looked a LOT better than her right eye, and I could tell she could still at least see shadow and light.  How could I possibly decide to remove her left eye when it looked so good and still seemed to have some function?

Regardless, I knew that the logical decision was to have both eyes removed at once since the chances are very good that her left eye would need to be removed eventually.  So, that night I made up my mind that I would schedule her for a double-enucleation on Friday (so I could be home with her over the weekend).  However, the decision didn't sit well with me all night and, in fact, I awoke at 4:30 the next morning literally in tears over it.

So, the next day I thought it over and finally decided that my heart simply would not let me live with the decision to remove her left eye for all of the reasons stated above.  If it looked as bad as her right eye and/or I knew it was causing her pain, it wouldn't even be a question, but as it was I decided I would let her keep her left eye until it became medically necessary to have it removed.  The moment I made that decision, I felt a million times better.

I continued to feel good about my decision, in fact, until yesterday.  I have been Googling all sorts of things regarding canine blindness, helping a dog adjust, enucleation photos to prepare myself for how she'll look after surgery, etc., and somehow I stumbled upon a blog, very similar to this one, written by a woman who's dog had undergone two separate enucleations.  She said that the second surgery was actually much harder on her dog because he had grown so accustomed to being able to see shadows and light out of his one good eye after his first enucleation.  Therefore, when he awoke to total darkness after his second surgery, it really freaked him out.

Reading this really made me doubt my decision to save Lou's left eye.  Was I really prolonging her quality of life, or was I just trying to avoid the inevitable for my own selfish reasons?  I fully admit that one of the main reasons I didn't want to have her left eye removed was because I wanted her to still be able to look at me with at least one eye, even if she couldn't really see me.  Again, I just couldn't stand the thought of her NEVER being able to look at me ever again.  However, I knew deep down in my heart that her left eye would have to be removed at some point.  I was even a little worried that her left eye might take a turn for the worse immediately after her right eye is removed, and she'd end up having back-to-back surgeries.

I went home from work yesterday toiling, once again, over this decision, but as soon as I got home I realized that the decision had already been made for me.  Lexie's left eye had gotten MUCH worse while I had been at work.  It is now just as cloudy as her right eye, bulging a little bit, and she was even pawing at her eye, which is a sign of pain.  I know this may sound awful, but I was actually kind of relieved to not have to struggle with this decision anymore.  Knowing my Lou is in pain takes away any other option, as far as I'm concerned.  Both of her eyes simply have to be removed.

So, now here we are.  Less than a month from the first sign of inflammation, it's the night before Lexie's scheduled enucleation surgery.  I'm still 100% certain this is the right decision, as her eyes both look really bad tonight and it doesn't even seem like she's seeing much shadow or light anymore.  At this point, I'm almost anxious for the surgery because I just don't want her to suffer anymore.  My hope is that once her eyes are removed she will be completely pain-free, and then hopefully I'll start to see her spunky little personality start to come back.  Right now, she's kind of depressed and obviously doesn't feel well, so she hasn't acted like "my Lou" in weeks.  I know it's going to take a while for her to recover from the surgery and adjust to complete blindness, but I'm fully confident in Lexie's ability to adapt.  In fact, I have a feeling this blind little Dobie is going to blow us all away with her amazing new abilities when it's all said and done.

In the meantime, I'm not gonna lie, tomorrow is probably going to be one of the toughest days of my life.  I will be dropping Lou off at the vet when they open at 8:00 a.m., then waiting on pins and needles while TRYING to work all day to hear how her surgery went.  I'm not sure if she's going to need to stay overnight, but thankfully my vet is open on Saturdays, so hopefully I can pick her up the next day at the latest.  I'm sure that I'm going to be incredibly sad and even a little bit horrified when I see her for the first time, but that won't stop me from babying the hell out of that little turd all weekend long.  In fact, I think I'll go baby her right now.

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